Boeing Lands $1.5 Billion Deal to Supply P-8s to US, Australia

Boeing Co., the world's largest aerospace company, landed a $1.5 billion contract to supply P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the U.S. and Australia.

Boeing Co., the world’s largest aerospace company, landed a $1.5 billion contract to supply P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the U.S. and Australia.

The deal, announced Thursday evening by the Pentagon, calls for delivering 13 more of the maritime surveillance aircraft, including the first four for the Australian military and another nine for the U.S. Navy. That will bring the Navy’s fleet total to 62, of which Boeing has delivered 28 to date, according to a press release from Boeing.

“By working together since the early stages of P-8A development, the U.S. and Australia have created one airplane configuration that serves the needs of both countries,” Capt. Scott Dillon, U.S. Navy P-8 program manager, said in the release. “The U.S. and Australian P-8As will be able to operate with each other effectively and affordably for decades to come.”

Based on Boeing’s 737-800 commercial airliner, the P-8A provides advanced anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The Navy has deployed the first two P-8A patrol squadrons since operations started in 2013. The aircraft will eventually replace the P-3 Orion made by Lockheed Martin Corp.

The U.S. military displayed a P-8 along with other aircraft this summer at the Paris Air Show held outside the city at the historic Le Bourget airfield. The surveillance aircraft in February completed a seven-month deployment to the Pacific, where it successfully spotted dozens of foreign submarines, as evidenced by the decals dotting its fuselage.

During recent deployments, P-8s have tracked Chinese submarines — and the Chinese have noticed. Last summer, a Chinese fighter jet intercepted a Poseidon over the South China Sea in international airspace and performed a barrel roll over it.

“As it’s getting operationally deployed, we’re learning more and more,” Chris Raymond, a vice president at Boeing, said in an interview at the show. Crews are coming back and describing its performance as a game-changer, he added, “so I think as the capability gets out there and starts being exercised, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do.”

Overall, the service plans to buy 114 of the new P-8 aircraft at an estimated cost of $32.8 billion, according to Pentagon budget documents. The Chicago-based aerospace giant also has contracts to deliver as many as a dozen of the aircraft to the governments of India and Australia, and is working to find more international customers.

“The international interest is developing,” Raymond said. “Whether it’s commercial threats, natural resource threats, regional security concerns, I do think this maritime space for a lot of people is going to become more and more important.”

About the Author

Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.
  • Lance

    Nice to see Boeing do better with this than its problem prone tanker plane.

  • duker

    A very expensive plane developed at a leisurely pace, it wasnt hard to see Boeing making that work

    • onebookisgood

      Ah, a Boeing rep must have bribed this sites administrators to get my comment removed regarding how absurdly over budgeted these planes are due to them padding their work orders in regards to employee totals and work actually done. Oh the horrors of personal experience. How dare people give their experience. Ah but it makes all those pulling down giant dividends happy.

  • Old 391

    The bigger question is will they deliver on time and on budget

  • blight_

    Would the 767 have been better for maritime patrol than 737?

    • onebookisgood

      Reason 737 was chosen is near 100% due to the fact that the 37 would fit in existing aircraft shelters. Reality need not enter the equation. The 57' would have made more sense than the 67 or 37, but would have required new aircraft shelters and therefore huge increase in cost.

  • pgorman

    onebookisgood is at least consistent in being wrong. The $32B cost is lifetime cost- development, maintenance and fuel for 20 or so years. Do the math for the per airplane cost- 1.5B / 13 gets you $115M apiece for the plane itself. The 737 was chosen over the 757 / 767 because it met the spec, saved fuel and was the correct size- bigger isn't better. I worked on the design- we didn't have the "bloated workforce" mentioned above. This airplane is on schedule and within cost, despite being a hugely complex airplane. I'm retired, by the way, and no longer connected with Boeing.

    • onebookisgood

      Yes, the airplane met "spec" size. Spec was due to the preexisting hangers available on the military bases and it was cost prohibitive to upgrade these facilities. Had little to do with payload/range or "fuel" savings. The "fuel" savings would have been true on ANY new plane they bought. And no, the 767 is not really an option compared to the 37/57. Its Fuel bill would have been astronomical on top of the need for increased hanger size. As for the workforce, yea its bloated. Horrifically so. Gets more and more bloated every year. I have yet to be on a Boeing project that did not have at least 30%-50% too many "workers", uh "road blockers" who sole job is to get in the way of anyone making a decision and getting any work done.